Thomas Lang – Creative coordination & advanced foot technique – Part 1

 

 

 

Thomas Lang - Creative coordination - DrumsCult

 

In this DVD, Thomas Lang explains the basis of his method of learning and practice. Based on a multilevel scheme, one of the best drummers in the world will show us how to practice with both hands and feet coordination exercises, interdependence and metrics. Surprisingly, this juggler drummer has no problem in thoroughly explaining each one of the things that he has worked and showing their application in practical examples.

 

 

Let me tell you a little story: I have a colleague who is also a drummer and more heavy-metal than a sandwich made of stones with whom I used to perform a small ritual. This friend of mine is a very funny, big guy and with a contagious smile inviting for any nonsense. So after work, Carlos and I used to go to my rehearsal room where I have a TV and a DVD player. We were going to watch our “cousin”, we called him “our Thomas”. And not a minute spent after we played on any chapter of the Creative Control DVD, with “our Thomas” playing impossible patterns and rythms, my mate and I looked at each other and without a word we simply laughed our asses off. That simply was inhuman, you would laugh or cry hysterically. When we got together at job, my colleague and I sometimes greeted us moving fingers and a foot, and doing a “rrrrrrrrrrrr” sound.

Something similar must have happened for those who have watched for the first time the famous Creative Control, the previous double DVD by Thomas Lang, one of the best-selling drumming DVD’s of all history. The first time you watch it you say nothing, you keep your mouth open until your teeth drop to the floor. But curiously, it is not just a display to overwhelm the audience for four hours. “Our Thomas” overwhelms not with one, but with a bunch of exercises that he teaches you. He doesn’t perform something impossible or mysterious that you will never be able to discern, no no … He will teach you what lies underneath in all its detail, will show it in slow motion and then flat out. It’s up to you if you want to practice it or not, but you can not accuse him of hiding his tricks … just like everybody else does. But enough about his previous piece of work.

When it was learned that he was preparing a new DVD, many wondered what the hell would be there. Can we go further? Will it be “harder and faster still”? Naah, it would probably be an act of exhibitionism and self-parody to get the wake of his supervening fame as the most amazing drummer of all time. However, the details of the duration made me think twice: seven hours of inhuman drum solos? Something wasn’t right…

Creative coordination & advanced foot technique is a kind of an ongoing coordination and gradual crash course. For starters, it is a luxurious three-pack DVD’s with a duration of 7 (seven!) hours. It comes with an excellent packaging that opens up showing the three DVD’s and a tab that hides a folded poster larger than a DIN A3 format. On one side there is a photo showing the new transparent custom drumkit made for Lang by Sonor, and on the other we find a scheme that summarizes the learning system, which he calls “The Matrix”. The name is suitable, it really is a schematic matrix which I will describe shortly. You can stick it on your wall as a poster or as a reminder that three thousand years practicing this matrix fourteen hours a day and perhaps you will be worthy of screwing one of those ten pedals in Lang’s drumkit. The three discs come decorated with a small relief -in one particular color to each disk- graphs with the same motifs that are drawn on the effect-cymbals from the Meinl Thomas Lang Signature series. The only thing missing in the package is the gun to shoot yourself when you finish viewing the contents of the DVD’s.

Thomas Lang playing very relaxed...

Thomas Lang playing very relaxed…

During the seven hours of the program, Mr. Thomas Lang will lead us through nearly two hundred exercices covering his whole learning system. In a brief introduction speech, he wonders why we practice what we practice, exactly for what. Why practice this and not that other thing? Do I practice this exercise because I saw someone do it or because I want to look like so and so? Is there any way to “practice everything”? How to save practice time, how to manage my time? Which lesson should I prioritize in order to incorporate something inmediatly to my personal style? Which of the millions of possible combinations of hands and feet should I handle with ease? It seems impossible to answer as many questions …
Well, “our Thomas” pondered one day and sought a system that would allow him to organize a study method simple and efficient, arranged methodically to be always clear about what one was practicing and why at all times. That is, maximize the potential of each new step and so all-encompassing in a progressive and schematic way. Everything very Austrian-ish…

As we move forward, Thomas Lang explains and shows the exercises at a reasonably slow pace, sitting in a magnificent Roland V-Drums kit with some “humble” 10 pedals (yes, ten). Then he does that same exercise at full tilt in his fabulous, massive new Sonor acoustic kit, made of a clear acrylic material, with an endless Meinl tableware, and also ten pedals hitting ten different things that are distributed under such a massive drumkit. Explanations are very clear and unhurried, and we are able to access the audio in German. He has no qualms about going back to a previous example if he thinks it’s necessary for us to understand what he is saying now, or playing simplified exercises with isolated parts and begin building the pattern gradually. After each set of exercises, we will find a theme or a solo whose construction is often based on the type of exercises discussed just before, often copying exactly the patterns, which helps a lot to get their applicability. One thing I seem to notice is that he no longer needs to prove who he is, and the speed of some exercises or the complexity of the songs are not as high as in his previous DVD, where all the examples were made at 100 bpm’s and you would only be able to play some passages of the songs if you were a replicant or agent Smith from “the Matrix” film.

Of course, as always Lang does emphasize that what you do with your hands, you must be able to do it with your feet. So to start, some combinations of foot exercises: syncopated patterns of sixteens, triplets and eighth notes. I must say that I have practiced most of them and yes, they are intended for humans. The problem comes when you want to get some speed. But they’re gifted with many ideas and are excellent to acquire fluency, dynamics and speed, and are immediately applicable to anything you’re rehearsing with your band, which will get pretty shocked when they see you apply those rhytmic ideas in a song. Something really important and what I completely agree with Lang, is that you have to learn to play with the toe and heel interchangeably. At first it seems impossible, but you get used quickly and leap is priceless. To complete these preparatory exercises, there comes a song that contains several of the patterns learned. Perfect for an appetizer…

CLICK HERE FOR PART 2…

 

This post is also available in Versión en Español.

Carles Goodvalley (200 Posts)

My name is Carles and I am from Barcelona. I play drums since I was 14 but no continuosly or as a professional. For several years, I have been trying to acquire knowledge not only about "how to play" but in various aspects of the drumming world such as materials, techniques, styles, influences, characters and important records, drummers that have left their mark and all kinds of data regarding our instrument. I've played with differents bands and styles, mainly Pop/Rock and Progressive Metal.


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